‘Safe’ Bets for Your NFL Weekend

Can Chris Johsnon take advantage of the Jaguars' 30th ranked run defense?

Normally when you talk about a bet or wager being safe, you’re talking about it being a pick that you feel good about. It probably isn’t going to cost you a whole lot either so in other words, you feel safe about it.

In this particular case, I’m using the term ‘safe’ because you need to go with games that aren’t impacted by other, perhaps earlier games. Why? Because so much is riding these games for teams in other locales.

For example, the Pittsburgh Steelers play the featured late game on CBS on Sunday in Green Bay. Personally, I’d stay away from this game because the mindset of the Steelers and maybe Packers, could already be determined. Because the Steelers need so much help to stay alive, they will more than likely know by the time they kick-off in Lambeau whether they are still alive or not. This will depend on the earlier games of course.

For Green Bay, only Minnesota will have played by the time the Packers kick-off so their fate will still be in their hands. The Detroit Lions kick at 4:05ET and the Chicago Bears don’t play until Sunday night.

Therefore, the games you want to focus on are the ones that have little bearing on others because that can play a significant factor in a team’s mental approach. Here are the ‘safe’ games I like this week.

Tennessee (-6) at Jacksonville – Chances are the stands in Jacksonville will be quite empty for this AFC South match-up. Both teams are out of the playoff race and will affect absolutely no one in terms of the playoffs. In fact, this game may mean more in terms of the NFL Draft coming up in May.

The Jaguars announced that wide receiver Cecil Shorts is on the injured reserve list and he’s going to be missed. He led the team with 66 receptions and three scores. Jacksonville is a game behind the Titans who are 5-9 and they would love nothing better than to hop Tennessee in the standings and finish second in the AFC South. That thought months ago seemed like a pipe dream.

The Jags are 1-6 against the spread in their last seven home games and are 6-13 against the spread in their last 19 games in Jacksonville. The problem is that they don’t stop the run (30th) and don’t run it well either (30th). I will however take them and the six points.

Brees must shake the poor numbers when playing outdoors in order to beat the Panthers.

New Orleans (+3) at Carolina – While this game has tons of playoff implications for both teams as well as a few others, it’s a 1pmET start so the two teams will have nothing to concern themselves with other than each other. It was just two weeks ago that the Panthers came into New Orleans as hot as any team in the NFL. They ended up losing 31-13.

Should Carolina win this game, they will take a game lead over the Saints with one game to play. That means a Panthers’ win over Atlanta in the final week would give them the division. New Orleans plays Tampa Bay. If both teams tie atop the division, the division record then conference record will break the tie. Both of those are just a game apart.

The Saints laid a serious egg in St. Louis last week while the Panthers defeated the New York Jets. I’ve gone through Drew Brees’ stats when he plays outdoors versus indoors and they aren’t pretty. The Saints are 1-4 against the spread in their last five trips to Carolina and the Panthers are 7-2-1 against the spread in their last ten games overall.

I really like the Panthers giving the three.